HISTORY OF THE HARBIN FESTIVAL & THE ICE LANTERNS
The frosty roots of The Ice Kingdom can be traced back five hundred years and across the globe to China. Of course during the Ming and Qing dynasties ice wasn’t used to entertain, it was used to survive. Hunting during overcast winter nights in China was not easy and navigation was nearly impossible, frequently causing hunters to get lost. To help light their path, clever hunters came up with an ingenious idea. They began to freeze water in wooden buckets creating an ice block into which they would place a candle. The ice surrounding the candle protected the flame and magnified the light from the candle, creating a pseudo-flashlight. The hunters would then string together these ice lanterns from their homes all the way to their hunt site, creating an illuminated path along the way.
The Ice Lantern Festival
In 1963 the Mayor of Harbin turned the Ice Lantern Festival, honoring the clever hunters, into a formal competition. Throughout the years the festival has grown into one of the largest and most popular ice sculpting events in the world.
Today, many of the sculptors who work on The Ice Kingdom hail from Harbin, China. Harbin stays below freezing for almost half of the year with temperatures sometimes dropping to 36 below, making it an ice sculpting haven.